New findings published in Frontiers in Psychology provide preliminary evidence that mantra meditation has a more positive impact when combined with other practices, such as yoga.
“I’m a yoga teacher and researcher and am very curious to find out how yoga and meditation work. From my personal experience, I know that these practices can have quite intense effects, but I want to understand them scientifically as well,” said study author Karin Matko, a research associate at the Chemnitz University of Technology.
In the study, 42 healthy participants with no regular yoga or meditation practice were randomly assigned to one of four groups: mantra meditation by itself, meditation plus physical yoga, meditation plus ethical education, and meditation plus yoga and ethical education.
Each treatment condition lasted for 8 weeks and involved learning mantra meditation. “The key practice in this form of mantra meditation is silently repeating the chosen mantra while letting all other thoughts pass by and letting the breath flow naturally,” the researchers explained. During the study, the participants completed daily assessments of their well-being, stress, and other subjective experiences.
Most participants reported increasing levels of in well-being and a decreasing levels of stress over time, but the researchers found that the combined interventions tended to have more positive effects than mantra meditation by itself. Participants who received ethical education, which was based on yogic philosophy, tended to have the largest increases in well-being.
“It’s a good idea to combine meditation with other practices like yoga and ethical education to enhance its effects. Combining meditation with yoga can have a quite relaxing effect while meditating and reflecting on ethical values like truthfulness can improve your well-being,” Matko told PsyPost.
But the researchers also observed a high degree of variability in participants’ responses. “Not all people responded equally well to meditation, yoga, or ethical education,” Matko explained. “Some participants felt worse throughout the treatment even though they appreciated their course one year later. Future research should look closer at long-term effects and at who benefits from what type of practice.”
The study, “Differential Effects of Ethical Education, Physical Hatha Yoga, and Mantra Meditation on Well-Being and Stress in Healthy Participants—An Experimental Single-Case Study“, was authored by Karin Matko, Peter Sedlmeier, and Holger C. Bringmann.